University of Sussex
Bennett,_Kirsty.pdf (7.85 MB)

From desire to discontent: Isabelle Eberhardt between cultures

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posted on 2023-06-08, 20:57 authored by Kirsty Bennett
This thesis examines the Islamic and literary aspects of Isabelle Eberhardt's identity construction and her mediation of the two. In situating Eberhardt within the Orientalisms of the nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries, the thesis examines the writer's trajectory within a particular nineteenth-century desire for the Orient as well as her desire for knowledge. Eberhardt’s desire for status as a female writer within the wider Orientalist universe is paradoxically based on her male Islamic alter-ego as Mahmoud Saâdi and her desire to become the Other. I argue that this mediated opposition produces a figure that ultimately becomes a locus of contestation between Algeria and France. The assassination attempt (and her subsequent expulsion from Algeria) heralds a series of letters from Eberhardt to various colon newspapers. The public selffashioning of her Islamic identity and consolidation of her literary identity, plus the simultaneous negotiation of the political situation in Algeria, become the focus of this thesis and constitute what I argue becomes her discourse of discontent. My argument draws on archival material and it is contextualised within a historicisation of colonial Algeria and the Ottoman Empire, and the location of Islam within colonial society. This thesis reveals how Eberhardt was subject to multiple reconstructions contemporaneously by colon society and by the French metropole. It argues that, beyond her own self-fashioning of identity, her capacity for ideological reconstruction continues.


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  • English Theses

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  • masters

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  • mphil


  • eng


University of Sussex

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